Career NBA night for former Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant

IRISH STEW

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Fourth quarters this NBA season have found former Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant near the end of the bench watching and waiting for a call that seldom comes.

Until Tuesday.

A rookie with the New York Knicks, Grant delivered 10 points and six assists in the final 12 minutes of a 120-114 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Grant finished with career highs for points (16) and assists (8) as the Knicks improved to 20-20. They did it without their two main guys. Carmelo Anthony had left the game early with an ankle injury while rookie Kristaps Porzingis had fouled out. That opened the playing-time door for Grant.

"Jerian stepped up big," Anthony told reporters after the game.

Grant, who has struggled all season to make shots, finished 5-of-6 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

"The coaches put the ball in my hands and gave me confidence, leaving me in during the fourth quarter and told me to control the game," Grant told the media afterward.

A first-round pick by Washington in the June draft before being traded to Atlanta and then New York, the former Irish standout is averaging 5.0 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 37 games as a rookie. He's shooting 36.1 percent from the field, 15 percent from 3 and 84.7 percent from the foul line.

Grant played steady minutes early in the year before falling out of the rotation because of his shooting struggles. It reached a point last week where the Knicks were reportedly interested in trading for another point guard.

For one night, Grant quieted critics.

"Jerian made plays for himself and other people and that really impacted the game in a major way," Knicks coach Derek Fisher said afterward.

Grant told reporters he received a congratulatory text message after the game from Irish coach Mike Brey.

New York Knicks guard Jerian Grant keeps the ball away from Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart during Tuesday's game.AP Photo/KATHY WILLENS